Red Cross Urges Heat Safety During Hot Summer Weather

With summer comes dangerously hot weather for the region, and the American Red Cross urges everyone to take caution against the heat for themselves and for their pets.

working wiping sweat off forehead
The summer heat is here and the American Red Cross urges those working outdoors to take extra precautions to avoid being overheated and suffering from heat exhaustion or heat stroke. The Red Cross suggests taking periodic rest breaks and drinking plenty of water. (American Red Cross photo)

High temperatures, humidity and hot indoor environments can quickly cause heat-related emergencies including sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

The Red Cross has some simple tips to help beat the heat:

  • Never leave children or pets alone in vehicles. The inside temperature of a car can quickly reach 120 degrees, even with the windows cracked open.
  • Slow down, take frequent breaks and drink more water than usual, even if you aren’t thirsty.
  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors that will absorb the heat of the sun.
  • Stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day and postpone outdoor games and activities.
  • Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat. Take frequent breaks if you must work outdoors.
  • Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by heat.
  • Check on your pets frequently to make sure they aren’t suffering from the heat.

Heat exhaustion signs include: Cool, moist pale or flushed skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea; dizziness; weakness; exhaustion.

If someone is showing signs of heat exhaustion, move them to a color place; remove or loosen tight clothing and spray the person with water or apply cool, wet clothes or towels to the skin; fan the person; have them slowly drink small amounts of cool water; watch for changes in condition. If a person refuses water, vomits or begins to lose consciousness, call 9-1-1.

 Heat stroke can be life threating and the signs to watch for include: Hot, red skin which may be dry or moist; changes in consciousness; vomiting and high body temperature. Move the person to a cooler place and quickly cool the person’s body by immersing them up to their neck in cold water. Otherwise, douse or spray the person with cold water, or cover the person with cold, wet towels or bags of ice. Call 9-1-1 if a person shows signs of a heat stroke.

Your pet is part of your family and, like any family member, deserves to be cared for and protected. But unlike humans, they can’t tell you how they feel or what’s wrong with them.

cats on chair
Summer heat can impact pets as well as people. Pet owners need to pay particular attention to their animals to make sure they aren’t affected by the hot weather. (Photo by Carl Manning/American Red Cross)

Heat stroke also is a common problem for animals in warmer weather. Dogs with short noses or snouts are prone to heat stroke. This also is true of any obese pet, a pet with extremely thick fur, or any pet with upper respiratory problems.

Some signs of a heat stroke in your pet are: Heavy panting and inability to calm down, even when lying down; brick red gum color; fast pulse rate; inability to get up. Heat stroke can lead to sever organ dysfunction and damage.

If you suspect your pet has heat stroke, take its temperature rectally. If the temperature is above 105 degrees, cool the animal down with a water hose. Stop cooling the animal when the temperature reaches 103 degrees and bring your pet to the veterinarian as soon as possible.

Pet owners need to be aware that animals may try to get out a window or door which are more likely to be open in warmer weather.

The free Red Cross Emergency App provides instant access to expert heat safety tips. Users also have the option of receiving alerts for excessive heat watches, warnings and heat advisories. The Red Cross Pet First Aid App has steps pet owners should take to keep their pets safe during hot weather. People can find the apps in their app store by searching American Red Cross and at redcross.org/apps

People can learn how to prevent and respond to heat-related and other emergencies by taking a Red Cross First Aid and CPR/AED or Advance Child Care Training course. A variety of online and in-class options are available. Course and registration information is available at redcross.org/takeaclass

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